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Disability Discrimination: ADA Does Not Require Employers To Be Mind Readers

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2013 | Disability Discrimination |

ADA Lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio; Best Disability Discrimination Attorney

If you have questions or are unsure how to address your disablity with your employer, or do not know how to request an accomidation, the worst thing to do is nothing or to guess.  Call a disability employment attorney before you lose rights that you might not know that you have.

Here is a good example of how sitting silient about your disability can case you to lose disability dismcrimination claims. In a recent decision in Daly v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., a federal district court in Massachusetts recently handed down a fairly common sense ruling: employers are not mind readers. Accordingly, an employer cannot be sued for failing to provide an accommodation that (1) was never requested, and (2) did not appear necessary based on the circumstances.

In this case, Daly, a pharmaceutical sales rep, was terminated after twice failing a required certification exam. Per company policy, sales reps were given two opportunities to pass each required exam, and an employee who failed an exam twice could be terminated. After his termination, Daly filed suit against his former employer claiming that Abbott violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Specifically, Daly argued that Abbott was required to provide a reasonable accommodation by allowing Daly to take the test a third time.

Cleveland Ohio Best Disability Discriminating Lawyers; ADA Attorneys; Spitz Law Firm

However, although Daly had a prior history of anxiety and depression, he failed to notify the company of his need for a test-taking accommodation. The company was aware that Daly had some sort of disability because he had previously taken disability leave. However, the details of his leave were handled by the employer’s insurance carrier, and Daly did not inform his supervisors of the nature of his medical problems. In fact, the first time that Daly discussed his disability and requested accommodation was at the time of his termination when Daly requested a third chance at taking the test. According to the district court, the disclosure and request came too late.

The court emphasized the fact that, although Daly explained that he had suffered panic attacks during the first and second exams and requested to take the exam a third time, he had opportunities to request accommodation for his anxiety before then. For example, Daly failed to request a reasonable accommodation after he returned from disability leave. He also failed to alert his employer and request a reasonable accommodation after failing the exam the first time. Thus, the court found that articulating his need for an accommodation only after he had been terminated was insufficient.

Daly also failed to present any evidence that his employer should have assumed that a test-taking accommodation was necessary. In fact, Daly had recently taken and passed a number of similar exams on his first try.

The ADA protects employees from disability discrimination by, among other things, requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodation if doing so will allow the disabled employee to perform as well as a non-disabled individual. However, the law does not require employers to assume that a reasonable accommodation is necessary whenever and employee fails to perform their job adequately. If you are unsure whether you are entitled to a reasonable accommodation, speak to an experienced disability employment attorney. The employment attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm can help you determine whether you are entitled to a reasonable accommodation and can assist you in requesting such accommodation from your employer.

If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted,  wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040.  The best option is not to wait. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disables employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio law.


The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It would be best for you to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to disability discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz or any individual attorney.

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